A matriarchal family is a family unit where the mother or a female is at the head of the family. This term is only applicable when the family exists in a matriarchal society. To be considered a matriarchal society, a culture must define a woman's authority over family as legitimate.
Cultures that are egalitarian or formally dominated by a male figure, patriarchal, are not considered to be a matriarchal society even if inheritance is assigned by matriarchal lineage. As of 2014, there has been no concrete proof that a matriarchal society has ever existed. Modern single-parent families where the mothers are authority figures are not considered a matriarchal family.